Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Around the world's museum at your desktop

Like the digital camera, this Google Earth innovation is one I'd consider to be one of the greatest innovation done by humanity. Imagine seeing all the beautiful artworks through history by your fingertips. Sure, it's nice to travel and see actual beauty, but while you're saving for your trips, you can go here: http://www.googleartproject.com/artworks/. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wish - Part One


I feel like an outsider. My high school batchmates talk about motherhood and their babies in Facebook and they give each other so much support. I am happy for them but I can’t relate.
This year, I am twice the legal age to marry but I remain unmarried. The situation is so because that is the way I planned my life. To this day, I do not quite comprehend society’s pressure for people to pair up. I think I’ll be quite content with being single although that’s a hypothetical that’s easier said than done.
My unusual choice to delay marriage and my other non-conformist decisions may have been brought about by my wish to lead a fabulous and unconventional life when I was a child. In some ways, I have been unconventional. In more ways, I still fall into the means. I am dissatisfied with this score. I would like to blaze trails further. To do this I need to be bolder. I want to be because I have to be because I want to do justice to myself.
I have to be, for my own happiness. I want to be.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I don't know how to drive


I don't know how to drive because I grew up without a car. My family couldn't afford a car when I was young. Until now, my family still does not have a car. We had a very old car very briefly in my adult life and my brother drove it, for the brief time that we had it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Poem


Judgment


There’s beauty
Then there’s ugly
What is burden
Is knowing the disparity

1 July 2010
1:52 pm

Friday, March 19, 2010

Migrant

It’s a constant struggle negotiating my presence in this country.

I came to Singapore for graduate school but I never even imagined that I’d come to this small country at any point in my life.

The journey was of course loaded with challenges. Fitting-in was never easy. Blows came in from all directions - from locals, from fellow migrants, or from teachers who did not understand, from not having enough money, from not being up to industry standards/cookie-cutter, from racism. It was very hard in the beginning. I guess the Filipino resiliency just surfaces when times get real tough. And what else can a desperate person do but to bear challenges and fight to survive?

The truth why I’m still here is that I never got a job anywhere else in the world. My plans of being a UN staff in Bangkok after graduate school has become a wish unfulfilled. My dream of handling big-ticket consultancies has vanished in thin air. I would not know the real reason for my elusive dreams, it has confused all this time.

Still life is good. I got a job I never expected and I’m able to live decently. There remains constant challenges with a multi-culture environment but I’ll keep working on them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Truth About Lorin Jones: A Review


The Truth About Lorin Jones
Alison Lurie
Little, Brown and Company
1988
328 pages

A serendipitous find of a novel by a Pulitzer Prize winning author keeps one good company over long weekends. It’s what I realized when I decided to finally open The Truth About Lorin Jones by Alison Lurie over a three-day weekend last month.

I remember being primarily intrigued by the book’s title, then by its pallid cover which depicted a girl, a plain-looking, plainly-dressed dark-haired girl, who exuded a strange and intriguing aura, and then its very catchy synopsis.

After reading a few lines into the first chapter, I was hooked. Alison Laurie has a wonderful gift in story-telling, a style that quietly sneaks up on you and captivates you and glues you to her book. She is funny, unpretentiously intelligent, and realistic.

The novel tells the story of two female protagonists, both painters. The one still living, Polly Alter, is writing a biography of the deceased Lorin Jones. Polly, who considers herself a failed artist, is a fan of Lorin who is known to the industry as a genius. When Polly began with writing her first attempt at authoring a biography, she starts with a thesis wherein Lorin is a genius victimized by a male-dominated art industry and her male lovers, and this victimization cut her life and success short. Being enamoured with her heroine at the early stage in the work, Polly pushed the partial parallels between her and Lorin’s life as she tried to identify with her subject.

As she conducted her research, Polly met people who are related to, worked with, or slept with Lorin Jones; each had their version of who Lorin was. In the end, she realizes that Lorin was not a hapless victim of her trade. She might have been pressured, pushed around and tricked by some people around her, but she did her own pushing, pressuring and asserting too when she needed to.

All of these helped unravel Lorin’s story, while significant things occurred in Polly’s life. She had an unsuccessful foray into lesbianism, her continuous and mostly difficult negotiation with her estranged husband regarding their son, her complicated interaction with her best friend (and accidental lover) and her best friend’s girlfriend and feminist friends, and her painful peacemaking with her father.

In the unfolding of this complex story, readers learn about the shortcomings of the ‘ideals’, whether it is a person we idolize (a genius but quirky artist like Lorin Jones) or the ideology we choose to live by (feminism being a good framework to view the world with but not the only framework). Hence, despite the ideals that we learn as we go along our way, the truth about ourselves is that we try to be good and also do good but we move along, possibly not always on the road to the ideal, depending on the resources (or constraints) we have on hand.

After much discussion on the customary feminist discourses on choice, loyalty to one’s sex (mainly attributed to the weaknesses of the male sex), the book ends with a seeming nod to teenage pop fiction; the heroine (Polly), whose beauty heightens as the story progresses, decides to follow her heart and make a drastic transition with the man she recently met and fell in love with.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Poverty and the poor in the Philippines: perspectives

By Windel Anne B. Lacson

More and more Filipinos, seemingly from various economic strata of Philippine society, are trooping to Singapore (and of course to many other countries) to find gainful employment. Increasingly, overhearing people speaking Tagalog and other Filipino dialects is becoming part and parcel of the overseas experience.

But while it is true that having more Filipinos abroad means more stomachs fed at home, I always find it difficult to grapple with the fact that Filipinos are leaving or are forced to leave our country in droves. I always find myself thinking about our countrymen’s vulnerability to affronts and indignities as migrant workers.

Before I joined the ranks of overseas Filipino workers, some of my friends in the Philippines informed me that they were being coaxed by their relatives who have migrated to so-called “greener pastures” to do the same thing, in the belief that hope is a commodity in short supply as far as alleviating their lot in the archipelago is concerned. I have yet to fully appreciate the ‘truth’ of that statement, and probably it is best that I do not, but up to now I refuse to believe that no amount of effort on our part can turn our country’s fortunes around. I choose to remain optimistic and to motivate myself to understand our nation’s predicament in order to be able to help our country in her time of need.

While walking past a line of newly acquired books by the library in my workplace, one volume caught my eye. It was entitled “Elite Perceptions of Poverty and Inequality”. I intuitively discerned the significance of this book in helping me understand why many countries remain economically disadvantaged; I have often read that Philippine society is considered a semi-feudal state by scholarly observers, and the notion that our economic disadvantages as a nation can be significantly alleviated by concerted action by more privileged Filipinos is not unusual in academic literature.

Quickly browsing through the book, I saw that it covers the poverty situation in the Philippines in detail. As detailed in the book, (which was edited by two academics, Elisa Reis and Mick Moore), the study on the Philippines was part of a five-country research project that sought to establish how the business and political elites in various poor countries view poverty and the impoverished masses in their respective countries. The authors of the various chapters of this book believe that their research topic was relevant to the academic community and policymakers in general due mainly (and I oversimplify) to the relevance of the elite in efforts to alleviate poverty.

The chapter on the Philippines was written by Gerald Clarke from the University of Wales and Marites Sison, a Filipino journalist. Their fieldwork involved 65 interviews in Manila and 15 in Davao, carried out in May and October 1999. The interviewees were people in high positions in “institutions that help to frame policy and discourse with respect to poverty and inequality”. The authors discovered that:

1. The elite in the Philippines no longer consists of the national business oligarchy. Reforms such as redistribution of land, dismantling of cartels and monopolies, and removal of obstacles to foreign investments have opened the market to more players. Economic growth has also led to an expansion in the middle class particularly in the major cities.

2. Elites who come from the military, some religious leaders, journalists and activists in the NGO and volunteer community showed a sense of social consciousness. The same cannot be said about politicians, businesspeople, and civil servants – those who are “in closest proximity to the real levers of power”. The authors learned that the latter group showed less social consciousness.

3. The Filipino elite in general feels a sense of responsibility towards the poor but demonstrate this through the provision of assistance on a patron-client (“padrino”) basis or through sporadic philanthropic activity rather than through government-led redistributive action.

4. The Philippine government has shown competence in the fight against poverty but the elites’ stance regarding poverty alleviation was ambiguous.

Clarke’s and Sison’s research paints a rather bleak image of the Philippine elite; such a picture confirms the perception of some of the NGO leaders I have met. But I am happy to learn that efforts to reduce poverty incidence in the Philippines have yielded results such that our country is now ranked among the middle-income countries as against our prior lower middle-income country ranking.

Still, there is much to be done as evidenced partly by our continuous diaspora. The OFWs, according to some observers, comprise the new Filipino middle class, as migrant workers have the capability to accumulate capital and as our “bagong bayani” become increasingly at ease with the global economy. I hope that as overseas workers we can reach out in a meaningful way to our struggling “kababayans” at home and I hope that as we improve our station in life, we can do better in helping our nation in general.